16 September 2007

Showbus, Duxford 07

Today saw the annual EFE Showbus International Rally at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambs, where around 500 buses and coaches attend. I've visited the rally for the past 5 consecutive years, this being the sixth. Unlike all the previous attendances, this was the first time I travelled on one of the entered vehicles, Stagecoach in Peterborough's citi6-branded ADL Dart/Pointer, 34880 (AE06 GZZ). This is one of three in the batch which sport additional branding for GNER's train services; the citi6 offering a 20 min frequency between the developing suburb of Hampton and the railway station.Myself, the driver and only one other passenger made the 1:05 journey from Peterborough to Duxford. We overtook both Delaine Volvo B9TLs on the M11, and I managed to capture quite a unique shot from the back window of our vehicle. Upon entry to the site a plethora of enthusiasts were stood photographing all entrants as they passed through the gate in single-file order towards the check-in booths. As we had 4 or fewer people on board, we all gained free entry so used the Express Lane to overtake some of the vehicles with numerous passengers on board who had to pay the much reduced entry fee of £7. This year's entry fee for other paying visitors was £14.95, and in my opinion fairly expensive, though Showbus literature claims they make no money from this fee and that it all goes to the Imperial War Museum.
Irrespective of this, Showbus is THE biggest bus and coach rally in the UK and I'd be more than happy to pay the entry fee.
We got parked up for 1015 and I was now faced with a new phenomenon: normally I arrive around 1100-1130 when the vast majority of vehicles have arrived and are in situ; Peter and I then dissect the site ensuring that between us both we've managed to photograph everything there. Peter wasn't able to attend this time and so few vehicles were parked up at this 'early' hour that I didn't fancy taking photos of what few were there as I'd never remember which I'd photographed a few hours later when I returned to take some more.
I felt that public attendance was a little down at this year's rally; so few people stood in the way of my shots I hardly ever felt outraged. I witnessed the Managing Director of Stagecoach East Midlands out with his camera, which was very pleasing to see and bumped into numerous friends and colleagues at various stages throughout the day. Our Chairman and former Managing Director of RoadCar, Paul Hill was travelling on the Stagecoach in Lincolnshire entrant - Trident 2/Enviro400 in 'the1' livery, being driven, I understand, by the son of the late Steve Sanderson, RoadCar's Operations Director, who I again understand, that thanks to Paul's efforts, is now a member of the LEYTR.
Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire vehicle entrants were pleasingly high with EYMS entering two vehicles - the last of their batch of recently delivered Volvo B9TLs, 721 (YX07 HKH) with Wrighbus Eclipse Gemini body (the only one of the batch to not be based at Driffield or allocated to Service 121); as well as their recently delivered single deck version of the same body though on Volvo B7RLE chassis, 343 (YX56 FHL) in route 115 branding (as featured on the inside rear cover of this year's LEYTRs. As well as Stagecoach's Enviro (19124 - FX07 CME), Veolia's Lincoln depot sent two vehicles: Optare Tempo YJ56 VWU and recently acquired Northern Counties-bodied Volvo Olympian L214 TWM.
Sleafordian entered their Neoplan Cityliner, T774 JWA; Brylaine one of their new VDL DB250s, YJ57 BBE; A&P Travel entered both their Scania/Van Hools - winning a coveted award (details of which can be seen in the forthcoming LEYTR); Fowlers entered three vehicles, of which one was very recently purchased - Dennis Javelin, AF57 WHF; and as I mentioned earlier, Delaine entered both their Volvo B9TLs, Volvo claim both are the first two such vehicles to enter service in the UK, AD56/07 DBL.
Preservation played a big part in the show and in the LEYTR region at least three such examples were in evidence: LEYTR member Mervyn Wilkinson's ex Lincolnshire Bristol LH, 1045 (SVL 830R); Grayscroft's Ford Thames Trader, GCC 3; and regular visitor to the event in Hull Corporation livery was 270 (TKH 270), a Leyland Atlantean entered by Nigel Green.

Despite having just over 7 hours to get everything done, I only just felt as if I'd managed it. I bought a rather restrained 5 ties altogether, the Plaxton centenary mug, a couple of models and a couple of other bits n pieces. I even managed to get slightly sun burnt, too.
Despite being full of buses and coaches, some operators bring their entire fleet it seems - Wootens and PPH of St. Albans spring to mind - the site has something for everyone as admission also allows unlimited access to the Imperial War Museum where you can see some excellent examples of British and foreign aviation - including Concorde, a few years ago the opportunity arose to have a photo of RM1 parked next to it, not something you're likely to see ever again in your lifetime!
My intention is to upload everything to my fotopic site though I'm running at maximum capacity at the moment and whilst acquiring additional space isn't a problem there are some other collections I need to upload first - the Seaburn Rally and the Scottish Bus Museum open weekend photos being two examples. I always try and name each photo before uploading and I took 467 today so you can the time element involved here.